South African parliament passes motion to close Israeli embassy, cut ties

South African parliament. Editorial credit: Felix Lipov /

South African lawmakers have voted in favour of a motion to close the Israeli Embassy in the capital Pretoria and suspend diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv.

The motion, introduced last week by the third-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was debated in the National Assembly today, with 248 lawmakers voting in favour, while 91 opposed it.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), and several other parties voted against the motion, which still passed with the support of the ruling African National Congress party (ANC), which has a majority in the 400-seat chamber.

It is now up to President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s government whether to implement the motion.

Ramaphosa has already said his country believes Israel is committing war crimes and genocide in the besieged Gaza Strip, where Palestinian authorities say more than 14,100 people have been killed in Israel’s air and ground assault since October 7.

“The Israeli Embassy should remain closed until they agree to a ceasefire,” ANC chief whip in parliament Pemmy Majodina said earlier today.

“The ongoing war is not a religious war like some people here in parliament want us to believe,” she also told the house, while some lawmakers chanted “Free Free Palestine.”

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South Africa recently withdrew all of its diplomats from Tel Aviv for consultation over Israel’s ongoing assault in Gaza.

“Genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated. Another holocaust in the history of humankind is not acceptable,” Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told reporters earlier this month.

For its part, Israel said this week that it was recalling its ambassador in South Africa for consultations.

South Africa, which has not had an ambassador in Israel since 2018, has long backed the Palestinian cause for statehood.

Many Palestinian and international human rights groups have drawn parallels between the Israeli occupation and South Africa’s decades-long apartheid regime.

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